Reading has long been a passion of mine. Here you will find brief reviews on some of the books that I, and my some of my clients, have found helpful.
Nothing was the Same
-Kay Redfield Jamison
Love continues and grief teaches…With these parting words Kay Redfield Jamison offers a powerful, poignant conclusion drawing from her experience of losing her beloved husband in her novel “Nothing was the Same.” Her writing is an in-depth account of her experience with loss that followed her husband’s long, ebbing-and-flowing battle with cancer. As a clinical psychologist by training, Dr. Jamison does a masterful job of blending her academic knowledge and her personal experience, to paint a portrait of grief that is candid, relatable, and insightful. Moreover, because she herself has long battled depression and bipolar disorder, she offers with succinct clarity her side-by-side experiences of intense grief and profound depression, noting how they are the same and how they are different - "[in depression] each thought was not only dark but ...punitive.” " [in
grief] Memories...carried with them occasional sweetness, a periodic tincture of life. My thoughts did not dwell on the pointlessness of life; they dwelled instead, on the pain of missing a life. Hope can find a place in a mind missing love... In grief, one feels the absence of a life, not life itself." She goes on to note another common but often overlooked difference – the way others respond to the a grieving, as compared to a depressed, individual. "Grief draws together those who knew the dead, binds those who have cause to miss and mourn" & "depression by its nature alienates, grief alienates only when it is perceived to be too prolonged, too severe...when it begins to bear likeness to depression." Notably, she references prolonged grief, which is a painful, unrelenting form of grief, and one that I work with often in my practice (more info here). Ultimately, Kay Jamison’s message is one of hope, offering the view that “Grief...instructs. It teaches that one must invent a new way back to life.” Although it can be a long road, I find this to be an apt description of the most fulfilling outcome for folks who seek treatment for grief, as they ultimately come to a place of peace and what I call integration of the loss within a new phase of life, which is notably distinct from “moving on.”. I found myself especially inspired when left with Kay’s final thought in this book – "It’s in our nature to want to hold on to love; it is grief’s blessing that we come to know that there are limits to our ability to do so…Love continues and grief teaches.”